Runoff may shape 2010 election

ATLANTA -- Republican leaders sounded the alarm this morning that next month’s Senate runoff will set the momentum for the governor’s race in 2010.

Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart warned members of the House GOP caucus meeting that the runoff result could embolden Democrats.

"If we don’t win this race, the Democrats will think they can take your seat in two years," she said. "This is our test case."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., asked the legislators to share their campaign volunteers and their time during the three weeks until he faces Democratic nominee Jim Martin in the Dec. 2 contest.

"We’re excited about the opportunity to win the first 2010 election," he said. "I don’t have to tell you how critical this is for all of us."

Chambliss is opening 10 campaign offices around the state tomorrow and has hired former Sonny Perdue campaign aide Derrick Dickey to head up the effort to get out the vote.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who was a longtime member of the Georgia House before his election to Congress, reminded his former colleagues that the runoff victory in 1992 of Republican Paul Coverdell began the momentum that led to the GOP takeover of the U.S. House in 1994.

Over the weekend, David Poythress, the first declared Democratic candidate for governor, said that he wants make sure that more Democrats are on the ballot in 2010 than during this year’s election cycle.

"I will volunteer my staff and my campaign to assist any state House or state Senate candidate in the 2010 elections," he said. "It’s an embarrassment that 102 members of a Republican Party that has mismanaged the affairs of the state of Georgia were allowed to be automatically re-elected without opposition."

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